Retain your right to vote by completing your voter registration form

Surrey Heath Borough Council announce that,

Local residents are being encouraged not to lose their voice on matters that affect them by completing their annual canvass form and returning it to Surrey Heath Borough Council as soon as possible.

With borough and parish elections taking place in Surrey Heath in May 2019, this is an important opportunity for residents to make sure they can take part.

The form ensures that SHBC can keep the electoral register up to date and identify any residents who are not registered so that they can be encouraged to do so. This will mean that residents will be able take part in any future elections.

Karen Whelan, Electoral Registration Officer at Surrey Heath Borough Council, said: “It’s important that residents respond as soon as possible, so we can make sure we have the right details on the electoral register for every address in Surrey Heath. To make sure you are able to have your say at elections taking place next year, simply check the form which you should have received in the post in the last few weeks, and respond as soon as you can.

“If you’re not currently registered, your name will not appear on the form. If you want to register, the easiest way is online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote, or we’ll send you information explaining how to do this in the post. In any case, you will still need to complete the form and send it back to us.”

People who have moved address recently are particularly encouraged to keep an eye out for the form and check the details. Research by the independent Electoral Commission indicates that recent home movers are far less likely to be registered than those that have lived at the same address for a long time. Across Great Britain, 94% of people who have been at their property for more than sixteen years will be registered, compared to 40% of people who have lived at an address for less than one year.

Melanie Davidson, Head of Support and Improvement at the Electoral Commission, said: “It’s really important that everyone who is entitled to vote is able to do so; checking the form that arrives through the post is one of the easiest ways to find out if you are already registered. There’s lots of helpful information about registering to vote on our website www.yourvotematters.co.uk.”

Any residents who have questions can contact the SHBC registration team on 01276 707165 or vote@surreyheath.gov.uk

  1. Borough and parish elections are taking place in Surrey Heath in May 2019.
  2. The electoral register lists the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote in public elections. The register is used for electoral purposes, such as making sure only eligible people can vote. It is also used for other limited purposes specified in law, such as: detecting crime (e.g. fraud), calling people for jury service or checking credit applications.
  3. The open register is an extract of the electoral register, but is not used for elections. It can be bought by any person, company or organisation. For example, it is used by businesses and charities to confirm name and address details. Your name and address will be included in the open register unless you ask for them to be removed. Removing your details from the open register does not affect your right to vote.
  4. To be eligible to register to vote a person must be:- Aged 16 or over (a person may register to vote at 16, but may not vote until they are 18)- A British or qualifying Commonwealth citizen who has leave to enter and remain in the UK or does not require such leave.- A citizen of the Republic of Ireland or other European Union (EU) member state.
  5. British citizens, Irish citizens and qualifying citizens of Commonwealth countries (including Cyprus and Malta), as well as citizens of other EU member states can vote in local government elections and Police and Crime Commissioner elections in England and Wales.
  6. Full details of the Electoral Commission’s research on the electoral registers.

Duty done, comment on Boundary Commission review posted

The text, all neatly organised, of my comments on the review by the Boundary Commission for England of moving Windlesham into the Windsor parliamentary constituency is now entered into their consultation page.

Rather annoyingly all the bullet numbering and indentation of my text was lost when adding it into the Commission’s website. Key thing is, I’ve done it, and here’s proof. There’s still time [till end of today] if you’d like to comment also.

Keep Windlesham in Surrey Heath Parliamentary constituency

The Boundary Commission for England has issued a report on the Revised proposals for new constituency boundaries in the South East.

The recommendation is that the electoral ward of Windlesham should be moved from Surrey Heath parliamentary constituency to a Windsor constituency. See page 4 of the proposals.

Monday 11th December is the closing date for submissions on this proposal. If you consider this change illogical and unreasonable, then please visit  https://www.bce2018.org.uk/, enter your postcode, click on ‘Make a Comment’ and tell the Boundary Commission why Windlesham should stay in Surrey Heath.

I’ll be submitting my comments today. My arguments will be,

  • Fracturing the longstanding cultural and democratic links between Windlesham and it’s nearest neighbours in Surrey Heath will, over time, drive Windlesham residents to focus on the Windsor constituency and its parliamentary activities.
  • By way of example, here a some of the many cultural and logistical things that Windlesham shares with Lightwater, its nearest Surrey Heath neighbour,
    • church diocesan links and heritage
    • annual remembrance day services, where MP’s, would be misaligned to services
    • Lightwater’s large shopping parade
    • Lightwater’s GP practice serves Windlesham, and it’s a member of Surrey Heath Clinical Commissioning Group
    • Small shared cultural organisations, such as Windlesham Country Market who meet in Lightwater, who might want their MP it officiate at significant dates, may be confused as to which MP to invite.
  • The proposed change will create political representational confusion, where,
    • At Parish council level, Windlesham shares a Parish Council with Lightwater and Bagshot.
    • At Borough Council level, Windlesham ward is in Surrey Heath Borough Council
    • The Surrey County Council ward is Bagshot, Windlesham, and Chobham
    • The Parliamentary constituency is proposed to be Windsor – containing, Windsor & Maidenhead, a large unitary authority in Berkshire.
  • Local government services would continue to be provided by Surrey Heath. Therefore, Surrey Heath’s MP might not unreasonably be expected to be engaged in Windlesham affairs, as the Windsor MP would have for borough/unitary councils engage with, and Windlesham would be the smallest of the constituency wards.
  • Difficulty in travel from Windlesham to a Windsor MP’s constituency office.

Al things considered, moving Windlesham ward into Windsor is illogical, as it involves moving a Surrey County ward into a different county, that of Berkshire.

There’s little cultural or democratic synergy between the Windlesham and Windsor, while Surrey Heath is far closer culturally and democratically to Woking and Rushmoor boroughs. Time to rethink the proposal.

One suggestion might be to join all the military lands together by moving Brookwood, from Woking, into Surrey Heath, where there’s a natural barrier in the route of the Basingstoke Canal. Perhaps, with one of the Ash wards in Surrey Heath moving into into Guildford.

Proposals to move Windlesham ward in Parliamentary boundary changes

Surrey Heath Borough Council issued press release today announcing the latest proposals of the Boundary Commission for England [BCE]. Click on image to link to the BCE website.

The Boundary Commission for England (BCE) has published proposals for new Parliamentary constituency boundaries as it opens its third and final consultation.

Parliamentary boundaries define the geographic area represented by each MP. Parliament has specified that the number of constituencies in the UK must reduce from the current 650 to 600. As a result the number of constituencies in England will decrease from 533 to 501.

The BCE is conducting the Review to ensure that the numbers of electors in each constituency are broadly equal.

The revised proposals for Surrey Heath involve moving Windlesham ward from the Surrey Heath constituency to the Windsor constituency. Residents are encouraged to submit their views to the BCE with a deadline of 11 December 2017.

The Commission will make its final report and recommendations in September 2018. Further information: www.bce2018.org.uk 

Electoral Review of Surrey Heath Borough Council: Final Recommendations

On 29th August, Surrey Heath Borough Council commented,

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England [LGBCE] has today [29th August 2017] published the final recommendations from its Electoral Review.

We are currently analysing these recommendations.

We have drawn the Commission’s attention to the transposition on the summary and final recommendations maps of the names of the Frimley Ward and the Frimley Green Ward.  They are shown correctly in the final recommendations report.

An Order will now be laid in Parliament and the new electoral arrangements for Surrey Heath will be implemented at the local elections in 2019.

Before the local elections it will be necessary for the Council to conduct a Polling District Review, which will include consultation with all interested parties.

More info on the recommendations can be found here: www.lgbce.org.uk/current-reviews/south-east/surrey/surrey-heath and the LGBCE’s press release.

MY NOTE: The Local Government Boundary Commission for England’s SUMMARY document contains the error mentioned above, and also that the Borough has 39 councillors, when it’s actually 40. The full report HERE, has neither of these errors.

New opportunity to comment on Surrey Heath ward boundaries

Surrey Heath Borough Council announce, [click on image to link to the LGBC website]

The independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England has opened a new phase of public consultation in its review of Surrey Heath Borough Council’s ward boundaries.

The consultation focuses on new proposals for ward boundaries in the Old Dean, St Pauls and central parts of Camberley.

Local people have until 10 July 2017 to have their say on the proposals before the Commission finalises its recommendations for new wards for the whole borough.

Earlier this year, the Commission held a public consultation on proposals for new ward boundaries across Surrey Heath. The Commission has listened to the views put to it during consultation and now proposes to make changes to the plans to reflect local evidence. Due to the significance of the proposed changes in Camberley, the Commission is opening an extra phase of consultation in those areas to see what local people think of the new recommendations.

The consultation is limited to the Commission’s new proposals in Camberley. Details of the recommendations, including maps of the proposals, are available on the Commission’s website at www.lgbce.org.uk or at the dedicated review page for the electoral review of Surrey Heath at www.lgbce.org.uk/current-reviews/south-east/surrey/surrey-heath.

Professor Colin Mellors, Chair of the Commission, said: “We listened carefully to all the views put to us on new ward boundaries earlier this year and have made changes to the original recommendations.

“There were some strong arguments made to us that the A30 provided a clearer boundary between Old Dean and St Pauls wards than the railway line as we proposed earlier this year. We have therefore redrawn the ward boundaries in the central parts of Camberley so that the A30 continues to be the northern boundary of St Pauls ward with Old Dean.

“We have also made amendments to the proposed Town ward so that it would include the Crawley Hill area. As a result of the proposed change, we are recommending that the resulting ward should be called Town and Crawley Hill ward.

“We are asking local people to log on to our website to tell us what they think about these proposals before we publish final recommendations for the whole borough in August.”

Residents can have their say in writing:
The Review Officer (Surrey Heath)
LGBCE
14th floor, Millbank Tower
London
SW1P 4QP

Or email: reviews@lgbce.org.uk

A conspiracy theory behind a notice at Polling Stations

I’ve stood outside many a polling station in my time. At the recent General Election I saw a notice outside the polling station I was at that I’d not seen previously. The photo below shows the notice, which says,

For ease of writing and reliability, pencils are provided in the polling booths,

However, voters may use their own pens or other writing implements if they prefer.

Why is this notice necessary? It seems there’s a conspiracy theory behind the need for the notice [BBC report of November 2016 gives some background], described in most daily newspapers during the election, and HERE in the Daily Telegraph, an extract of which is,

….. some voters – especially certain supporters of Brexit – were urging people to use a pen to cast their vote lest their pencilled choice was rubbed out and altered.

Among the wild theories last year was the suggestion that pencil-written ballot papers may be erased as part of an MI5 conspiracy to remain in the EU.

The theory emerged after a YouGov poll asked people about “some things that people have said about the EU referendum campaign”, including “it is likely that the EU referendum will be rigged”.